The 5: Best throws from Josh Rosen’s debut as the Cardinals’ starter
Josh Rosen’s composure might’ve been the big surprise in his debut as the Arizona Cardinals’ starting quarterback Sunday.
Take away his lack of NFL experience, and it was still as eye-popping of a performance as one could have in completing 15 of 27 passes for just 180 yards. Save for missing a very wide open Christian Kirk in the end zone while in the red zone, the rookie’s game against the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t have been much more impressive.
On several occasions, Rosen threw his receivers open, putting the ball through tight windows and keeping them out of reach of defenders.
Here are five throws that stood out from Arizona’s 20-17 home loss to Seattle.
The home run ball
Let’s start out with a deep ball that would’ve been close to a score.
A play-action shot to J.J. Nelson hit the wideout well enough after he blew past the Seahawks’ backend defenders, but Nelson couldn’t come up with the catch in the second quarter. The drop forced the Cardinals to put together a lengthy drive that was aided by a pass interference penalty, putting Arizona in the red zone.
Rosen could nitpick that the ball should have traveled 60 yards through the air instead of 55, but a catchable ball is a catchable ball.
Stepping up in the pocket
This one looked like trouble upon the release. Rosen didn’t panic with the pocket collapsing toward him, stepping into a throw just before he was clobbered by a Seattle pass-rusher.
More frighteningly, he put the ball in the middle of five players: two receivers from Arizona and three defenders.
But like Rosen’s other strikes from his starting debut, the only player with his head turned is a teammate, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who made the grab while streaking along the right sideline for a 31-yard gain to start off what would become a game-tying touchdown drive in the front end of the fourth quarter.
Close but no cigar
At the Seattle 27-yard line with 24 seconds left in the first quarter, Rosen not only got the ball off with a Seahawks defender bearing down on his backside — he put it in the perfect spot for a catch by receiver Chad Williams.
As was a theme Sunday, the quarterback put the ball in between two defenders, forcing Williams to go get the ball high and at the pylon, out of danger of being intercepted.
“I saw man across the board, dropped back, tried to push (safety Earl Thomas) to one side and throw to the other,” Rosen said. “Real close but no cigar.”
Rosen’s pass had enough zip that it got to Williams before Thomas, who wasn’t fooled, could converge. Williams made the grab, and the play was first ruled a touchdown before replay showed he didn’t get a second foot cleanly inbounds.
Dropping it in
Here’s an example of Rosen’s picturesque ability to throw receivers open.
Arizona trailed 17-10 when Rosen opened up a five-play, 80-yard drive with a dime to Seals-Jones, who breaks off linebacker Bobby Wagner on the inside and just in front of a defensive back bearing down on him from behind. The pass is inches out of the reach of Wagner, who is in solid position to break up a pass that isn’t closer to the sideline.
“When you look at some of the throws, particularly the two to Ricky, late in the game, tight windows, very impressive,” head coach Steve Wilks said.
Patience, accuracy and a bullet
The Cardinals used the momentum from the play above to score.
A protection-heavy package put just two receivers — Williams and Larry Fitzgerald — out on a deep crossing route from 22 yards out in the fourth quarter.
That gave Rosen what he called “hours” to make a play, and he admitted to going back and forth, determining if he could connect with either Fitzgerald, who ended up on the right side of the field, or Williams.
Rosen eventually settled for a bullet of a pass at the knees of Williams, which once again kept it out of the hands of the Seattle defensive backs. Thomas, who was trailing Williams on the play, ended up breaking his leg on the play, and Rosen even spoke to that in detailing the touchdown pass after the game.
“It’s not really as much a scheme to it as we just got heavy play action and we got two guys on routes and hopefully one of them will find a way,” the rookie said. “Just kind of sat back there for awhile, had Larry and Chad on two really deep crossing routes and kind of felt the pocket, I had some time so went back and forth a couple times. Maybe if I’d had gave Chad a little better ball, Earl wouldn’t have been on the ground. I feel kind of bad about that.”